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Why the Paralympics' humorous TikTok strategy manages to toe the line 'brilliantly'

Why the Paralympics' humorous TikTok strategy manages to toe the line 'brilliantly'

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The Paralympics 2024 is around the corner and no matter if you've been following it or not, we bet that you've heard of the stir its official TikTok page has been garnering. 

The Paralympics' official TikTok account has been releasing a series of videos featuring various athletes and sports over the course of the last few weeks. However, they are coupling it with memes and funny TikTok sounds that have notoriously gone viral in the past. 

In one such video posted on 10 July, two fencers were seen competing. One of the athletes was seen being whipped in the head and had to subsequently receive medical attention. The video's audio was a remix of two audios - a child screaming that he had "been stung by a wasp" and rapper Aminé's song titled Caroline

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“I’ve been stung by a…” 🐝🤺

♬ Wasp x Caroline - Kuya Magik 🪄

In another video posted on 28 May, featuring a volleyball match between two teams, the Paralympics TikTok team hopped onto the viral "Four Seasons baby" trend and edited one of the athletes to the "Four Seasons baby" track . It saw him raising his hand and excitedly screaming "Me" as he attempts to block the ball. The caption accompanying the TikTok read, "Four seasons baby can BLOCK." 

According to media intelligence firm CARMA, the Paralympics TikTok account received mixed sentiments, with conversations about the account being 28.9% positive and 15.7% negative. 

"Many netizens are sharing their opinions and experiences with accessibility and disability representation," said CARMA. 

"There is a split between those who find the TikToks humorous and those who find it a mockery of athletes and ableism," it added. 

Is it working as a strategy?

Social media players that MARKETING-INTERACTIVE spoke to have called the Paralympics' TikTok strategy "genius" and "brilliant." 

"I think the Paralympics' TikTok strategy is genius. They clearly understand the nature of TikTok and know how to present their content in a way that taps on this, making Paralympians super relatable and engaging which really breaks down barriers and stereotypes," said Kimberley Olsen, co-founder of Yatta Workshop.

Olsen added that the strategy is an effective way to connect with the younger audience found on TikTok. She said:

To me, it taps into TikTok's vibe perfectly, boosting engagement and helping their content go viral. Overall, it’s a fantastic way to connect with a younger audience and promote inclusivity.

According to Olsen, the content resonates with TikTok's audience because it is authentic, relatable and fun. 

"The community’s reaction to this content speaks for itself - it gives people the freedom and ease to engage with Paralympians just like they would with any other TikTok content, encouraging everyone to be themselves and interact more openly. Their approach promotes a sense of connection, making it easy for viewers to relate and interact," she added. 


Para Triathlon is swim, bike and air piano. 🎹

♬ original sound - paralympics

Comments seen by MARKETING-INTERACTIVE reveal that audiences have been enjoying the content, with one user who goes by the username @taterth0ts420 saying that disabled athletes and Paralympians are "finally" getting more exposure. Other users have commented that the social media manager managing the TikTok account deserves a raise. 

Similarly, Jarrod Reginald, executive creative director of Chariot Agency said that the strategy is a "brilliant example of adapting to the evolving digital landscape." 

"By crafting content that captures attention in the brief moments we have between swipes, they've made Paralympic sports compelling and accessible to a broader audience," said Reginald. 

"This approach not only elevates visibility but also reshapes perceptions, highlighting the athleticism and dedication of Paralympic athletes in a format that is both engaging and shareable," he added. 

Reginald is of the opinion that the content resonates with its audience because it strikes a balance between entertainment and authenticity, adding:

The Paralympics' TikTok videos don't just showcase sports; they highlight the personalities and stories of the athletes, making them relatable and inspiring.

The humour adds a layer of approachability, encouraging viewers to engage and share, added Reginald. 

"This strategy effectively bridges the gap between the audience and the athletes, fostering a sense of community and inclusivity that is both powerful and appealing," he explained. 

Understanding TikTok humour 

In fast-paced environments such as TikTok, the Paralympics' decision to lean into humour is a strategic fit. 

"With limited time to capture and retain attention, the Paralympics have wisely opted for quick, impactful humour that resonates instantly. This approach ensures that the content is memorable and shareable, creating a positive feedback loop that amplifies their reach and engagement," said Reginald.

By aligning their humour with the platform's dynamics, the Paralympics have managed to keep the audience entertained and invested, he added. 

Olsen shares the same view, saying that the type of humour used by the Paralympics TikTok account is "spot-on", adding that: 

It's light-hearted and relatable, making Paralympians seem just like everyone else, which is refreshing and inclusive.

"By focusing on funny, everyday moments, it shows that these athletes can laugh at themselves and have a good time, helping to break down stereotypes and makes the entire event more approachable and interesting," said Olsen.

"The way that they approach humor is respectful and supportive, which has that underlying tone of celebrating the spirit and resilience of Paralympians in a way that's engaging and entertaining for the audience," she said. 

Related articles:  
Team SG picks creative agencies for Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games 
IKEA spotlights mums in social campaign with a sense of humour 
Cathay injects humour and light-heartedness into CNY campaign

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